Crowds flock to see skilful shearers

THERE was nothing sheepish about the crowds that flocked to the Buffers Alley GAA Grounds at Monamolin near Gorey, Co Wexford, to see some of the world’s top shearers in action over the weekend.

For they cheered on the Irish, who were competing against contenders from New Zealand, Australia, England, Wales, and Scotland.

The spectators hailed the action in the Clik Pour On national championship, a speed challenge and the first international test between Ireland and New Zealand.

David Fagan, the 41-year-old former world champion from New Zealand, who is regarded as the greatest competitive sheep-shearer, was the main focus of attention in the speed test against the clock.

Fagan, who is on his way to the world championships in Scotland, has been known to shear a lamb in 18 seconds and a flock of 20 sheep in 15 minutes and 27 seconds.

He set an Irish speed record of 20.6 seconds at Danesfort, Co Kilkenny, in 2000 and was back to defend it. He was up against leading shearers such as George Graham (Wexford), Willie Jones (Antrim), Dean Ball (New Zealand) and Tom Wilson (Scotland).

But it was his own nephew, James Fagan, a 26-year-old, who relegated him to second place and set an Irish record of 19.6 seconds.

David Fagan’s time was 20.9 seconds.

In third place was another New Zealander, Brendan Boyle, in 21.5 seconds, with Nicky Beynon (Wales) fourth in 21.7 seconds.

To mark the golden jubilee of the All-Ireland championships, special presentations were made to the winners of the senior title since 1953.

Michael Murphy, chairman, said it was decided to celebrate the anniversary by honouring this elite group of shearers.

The organisers were delighted with the turnout and especially the quality of the shearing and that of the shorn wool.

But the skills of the top shearers from New Zealand, whose national flock of 40 million sheep is 10 times greater than Ireland, was also special.

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